Thursday, 27 October 2011

Smartphone apps for autism

As the world starts to become more aware of the power of Android and IPhone so a shift has occurred in attitudes. Now Apps are not just for social networks, gaming and entertainment but can have a genuine role in helping people. Hence this post about apps for autism.

We've vaguely covered this topic before but haven't done it full justice-we'll try to rectify that now.Firstly let's look at what Autism is . Not being my field of expertise I turned to the net for a succint definition:
  • (psychiatry) an abnormal absorption with the self; marked by communication disorders and short attention span and inability to treat others as people

So two things there stand out for me 1) Short Attention Span
                                                      2)Communication Disorders

When I saw that "apps for autism" was one of the most searched terms in recent weeks on the internet I started to see why. Smartphones-which we predominantly play apps on- are devices whose very legacy and foundation is to essentially communicate. That ticks off point one , a device made for communication is surely the best thing to get someone with communication disorders a helping hand. 
As for the second point, apps are not like traditional games or activities because they originate on a portable device they are generally made for shorter bursts of entertainment or work, you are unlikely to play a 100+ hour epic game on your phone , nor are you likely to read the entirety of "War and Peace" from your Iphone or Android's small screen.

So with it established that apps could possibly be ideally positioned to reach out to somebody with autism I set out to find what the net had to offer or recommend for the big players, Android and iPhone/Ipad. This is what I came up with:

First of all a mention 
An online autism community provided by Ambitious about Autism (AmbitiousAboutAutism.org.uk), the UK charity for young people with autism, supported by TalkTalk. http://www.talkaboutautism.org.uk/ 
It's thanks to this site that I was able to find out about Hacking Autism
A site dedicated to develop innovative, touch-enabled applications for the autism community and make this software available for free      
They had 34 free apps at the last count under headings such as
  
CommunicationStoryBuilder
Create pictures, flashcards, storyboards, routines, and visual schedule. Record custom audio in any language. Converts any words with Text to Speech that do not have custom audio recorded. We include 100+ pictures (first 5 have audio) to get you started. Add pictures with your camera, or from your camera roll, or use online image search. Utilize as audio visual prompting tool or AAC device.
eReading:
StoryBuilder

Gulliver's

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storybuilder-for-ipad/id377631532?mt=8
Story Builder is designed to help children        accomplish the following educational goals: 1) Improve paragraph formation; 2) Improve integration of ideas; and 3) Improve higher level abstractions by inference. Extensive use of audio clips promotes improved auditory processing for special needs children with autism spectrum disorders or sensory processing disorders
and  Reading

eReading:Gulliver's


We develop some of the finest eReading apps available, and would like to invite you to scroll through the various pictures that come from our most recent book; 'Gulliver's Travels'.
http://www.ereadingbook.com/


Model Me Kids® leverages iPhone app and iPad app technology as a tool for helping teach children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Extend the lessons in the Model Me Going Places™ DVD with a portable visual teaching tool. The App includes six of the locations featured in the Model Me Going Places™ DVD. For iPhone and iPod Touch. Just released for iPad.

Please explore their website as they have a lot of good free apps for autism on there.
In their own words
Another useful app that I found

App Name: Model Me Going Places™Model Me Kids® leverages iPhone app and iPad app technology as a tool for helping teach children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Extend the lessons in the Model Me Going Places™ DVD with a portable visual teaching tool. The App includes six of the locations featured in the Model Me Going Places™ DVD. For iPhone and iPod Touch. Just released for iPad.

Travels

I'll leave it at that for now. I hope you found this useful and if you did please let me know and I will add to it in the following weeks.










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